Authors: Debbie Kowalczyk
The Chamber of Souls
The Guardian’s Protector
Copyright © 2014 by Debbie Kowalczyk
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Publisher's note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the UK
Designed, formatted, and edited by Kristen Corrects
Cover art design by Ravven
First edition published 2014
The chamber of souls: The guardian’s protector / Debbie Kowalczyk
I would first and foremost like to thank my wonderful, intelligent, helpful and patient son, Kyle Leonard. Without his help, input and guidance; without him on occasion ruthlessly shouting at me throughout the longwinded early drafts, this novel—or myself in its undertaking—would not be the same. Kyle, I will be forever grateful to you. Thank you for never letting me settle for something substandard. Thank you for telling me I could do better and making me believe, even without your help, that I could. And finally, thanks for still talking to me after my relentless pecking of your beautiful head.
I’d also like to thank Ying Chan, Emma Rodgers, Ann Gill, Paula Jones, Mandy Nolan, Billy Boff, Peter Coleman, Stephen Leonard, Marian Young and Christina Leonard for their proofreading and insights during the early drafts, as well as all of the many other valuable friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances who’ve helped in any way, shape or form along the way, whether it be giving me suggestions, writing books, quotes, choosing names, colours or words; any input, assistance or insights whatsoever have been much appreciated. Even those who’ve just simply read the book for pleasure (especially those who told me they enjoyed it!) and those who’ve simply kept on asking ‘How’s it going?’ Thank you all for your encouragement, contribution, help and support.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Alan Green for allowing me to read the final draft to him and for his helpful suggestions, Laurence Hill at the Writer’s Workshop for his assistance, the readers at Hilary Johnson’s critique service their helpful feedback, and my fantastic editor Kristen House for her insight, input and making the novel finally shine.
And finally, a heartfelt thank you to everyone reading this book!
This novel is dedicated to my gorgeous son, Lewis Leonard, and my lovely stepfather Stephen Gill, who made my novel the first novel they’d ever read. Thank you both for giving it a try, enjoying it, and for your help and encouragement.
She had only ever been a soul. She may well be luminous and gifted with unique powers, but she was still just a delicate ankh-shaped figure that had never been born into body. She may even be pearl white, which meant she held the position of one of the twelve highest-ranking souls of the huge sphere known as Omnipion—but her beautiful, silky being had only ever been a soul.
The veins in her translucent wings began to crackle as they fired up with what looked like violet static electricity, but she wasn’t ready to enter the vertical Stream that swayed in front of her enticingly. Instead, she remained on the circular ledge surrounding it, her grey, glittery eyes gazing at the magnificent centrepiece as if hypnotised. There were many marvels inside Omnipion, but this stunning, intertwining device was one of the most glorious. Shimmering with stardust, eager to carry souls from one field to the next, it ran straight through the middle of Omnipion’s twelve inner fields, making a dominant focus.
‘The Divine Realm,’ she said eventually and, as she glided into the upward Stream, a cloud of silvery particles swarmed underneath to aid her lift.
She couldn’t believe she was about to leave this place, her home, everything she’d ever known since the beginning of time. Her being filled with loving empathy as she turned her attention inward and gazed wistfully at an iridescent orb known as the Gateway of Dreams. This multifunctional realm pulsed as if breathing, giving her weightless being a heartbeat, and sat in the exact centre of Omnipion. Known to be the creator of all things, including the newborn fragile souls that rose from its core like white, glistening embers, the orb was naturally worshiped.
‘Goodbye,’ she said with a sigh, almost touching one of the souls with her outstretched wing. Knowing she would no longer be there for those precious newborns hurt, but she understood it was just one soul in particular she had to care for now.
The Stream slowed as if sympathetic to her clinging mind but, after prising her eyes away, she spiralled through the centre of the six higher fields with ease, each circular expanse of land she passed dominated by one particular colour of souls: silver, lilac, azure, green, peach and gold, all showing which field and position they belonged to. Each beautiful being, all doing their part for Omnipion’s essential running order, gave her inspiration.
I can do this!
she told herself, nerves bubbling inside her as she thought about the mission.
I have to do this!
Being the most nurturing soul in Omnipion, she had no choice; this job could not be given to anyone else.
When she spiralled through the inner rim of the Divine Realm, an array of glowing stars, scattered amongst the backdrop of deep space, greeted her. She glided from the Stream onto the clear white-opal floor, her eyes taking in the stunning dark glory, visible through the gigantic dome. The top of the Stream reached the height of the dome, its silvery-white light shimmering down, illuminating the arch, letting her know where the dome ended and the universe began.
Her eyes dropped slightly to admire the Steps of Accession. Made of crystal, the eight sets of steps ran in perfect symmetry from the outskirts of the Divine Realm to the centre of the dome, making a towering, pyramid structure. Her eyes were glued until she felt his blissful presence.
He floated towards her as though she had a gravitational pull and she instantly felt at ease. His rich pearly being carried a metallic sheen, which flashed different colours in reflection to the opal beneath him. His piercing, inky eyes, full of ancient wisdom, glittered intensely as they studied her.
They both arched forward in greeting, their wings folding back as they did, making them look like graceful, loving swans. She then met his eyes, knowing he could read her psyche, and filled her heart with the emotion and desire for the purpose at hand.
‘I’m sure,’ she said. An orange ripple flashed through her wings as she spoke, showing her sincerity. ‘I’ll enter the Chamber. I’ll be the mother of the Bright One.’
‘Then we both agree you are the best candidate,’ he said with a proud smile.
‘I agree—the Bright One could not be born to just anyone inside the Chamber. And I agree it must be a gifted soul. Being the only gifted soul capable of being a mother, I understand it must be me.’
The Decision Maker smiled. ‘With the amount of strength and love inside your being, I have no doubt that you will raise the child well enough for its purpose.’ She bowed in a thankful manner and his tone changed to none formal. ‘You’ve considered the enormity of the mission, but do you think you can handle what you prepare others for?’
‘Life?’ she asked. ‘I hope so.’
His expression turned solemn. ‘You are aware you won’t remember who you are? The Guardians won’t tell you anything about this place, or your mission, until you give birth to the child.’
‘And you welcome the Interference Squad?’
Her being shivered. ‘Yes.’
‘Then let me be the first to thank you, Nevaeh, Protector of Delicates. Without you, the Bright One—your soon-to-be child—may not make it.’
‘Thank you, Decision Maker,’ she said, an overwhelming feeling of love rushing through her being. ‘I’ll do my best.’
‘I don’t doubt that.’ He came closer, his large wings outstretched. ‘Are you ready now?’
She placed her left wing on top of his right and, as if made of liquid, they sank into one. ‘I am.’
The two of them flew in a straight line past thousands of workers in different domains, to the outer rim of the Divine Realm. Once they had balanced themselves, they peered over the top of the Chamber, a clear, glass like matrix structure built to hold the billions of souls that were kept in transparent, egg-shaped caissons called Omni-Pods.
Nevaeh stared in awe at the beautiful, glistening Omni-Pods, which shone like diamonds against the darkness beyond the dome. She knew, just like the rest of the souls inside theirs, that one part of her would remain in this device, watching as the other part lived, and that her other part would go through a transporter that would enable her to enter her chosen womb.
With a hissing sound, an unoccupied Omni-Pod near her feet opened, and a clear disk materialised in the centre. After the pixels developed, images of available pregnant women flashed by inside.
‘Your Transmitting-Disk awaits you,’ the Decision Maker said. ‘Are you ready to choose your parents?’
A feeling of apprehension opened up inside her, something she’d never felt before in this place. ‘I think so,’ she said. She had never chosen parents before. She’d never had to be born into body. Rising from the core fully Awake and powerful, just like the Decision Maker and ten gifted others like them, she’d never had the need to take The Test—a journey souls must undertake inside the Chamber before they can re-enter the inner fields of Omnipion.
They bowed once more, this time in farewell, then she glided above the Omni-Pod, to align herself.
After sinking into the disk, she settled into a stable position. ‘I won’t let you down!’ she said, looking up at him with clear determination.
‘I believe that with all my heart,’ he said as the Omni-Pod closed. Looking proud as she turned to choose her parents, he whispered, ‘Good luck, Nevaeh! I’ll see you in your dreams.’
THE NIGHT OF LIGHT
The moment Amy stepped onto the delivery suite, she sensed something ominous. The unnerving feeling wasn’t caused by the midwives rushing past her, their eyes on full alert, or the incongruous darkness of the corridor. The tingles running up her arms and icy shivers attacking the back of her neck meant something eerie was present. The coldness in the air had nothing to do with temperature, and it left her paralysed to the spot.
Her instinct was to leave but, although she usually listened to her intuitive warnings, her waters had broken. Fighting an unbelievable urge to run, Amy lifted her hand to catch the attention of one of the midwives, but she rushed past, making her feel invisible.
An abrupt, static noise emanating from the ceiling of the corridor brought the next midwife to a halt but, as if Amy was invisible, she held onto the opposite door handle as if bracing herself. As lights began to crack and spark and a deep rumble shook the ground, Amy held her stomach tight, preparing for the worst. Being ticklish, the vibrations she felt through her cheap slip-on shoes made her want to scream. Thankfully, after one long, drawn out fizzle, the whole outburst ceased.
As if she possessed no duty of care, the midwife rushed away, leaving Amy with the desolate, morbid corridor as her only company.
Amy’s almond-shaped grey eyes stared out after the midwife long after she’d disappeared, making her look like a lost little girl. Her slim frame, which looked hardly capable of carrying her large, round bump, made her look all the more vulnerable. At only five foot four inches, with pink flushed cheeks and a button nose, she looked far too young to be having a baby.
She was too young, so her mother kept telling her; her father said he was just thankful she at least waited until she left school at sixteen unlike some today. Her mother even suggested she have an abortion, claiming the baby would leave her in a mess, but Amy could never have considered it—all she’d ever wanted was a baby.
Another contraction, this one powerful, made Amy drop to the cold floor. She began to rock back and forth on all fours, trying to cope with the pain, her wavy, ash brown hair mopping the floor, her lips pressed in a tight line, turning the ruby pigment white. Just as she began to lose all hope of being cared for, a midwife with radiant, mocha skin stepped out of a doorway at the opposite end of the corridor, the light in the room behind her making her seem pious. Amy squinted her eyes, straining to see through the darkness, wondering if she was real.
She sauntered towards her and held out her hand. ‘That was a
tremor,’ she said in a serene American accent, ‘compared to the earthquake last night. That’s the reason the lights weren’t working properly,’ she added, casting her eyes to the ceiling. The lights in the corridor popped on as Adaizi raised her hand.
Although Amy hadn’t heard anything about earthquake from the previous night, or felt a tremor on her way in, the woman’s persona seemed genuine. As Amy took her hand she realised her contractions had stopped. With a leisurely nod to her left, the woman indicated for Amy to follow. Transfixed by the midwife’s shoulder-length dreadlocks swaying from side to side as she glided, Amy followed her into the bright private suite.
To her left was a door that must have led into a bathroom. A television was mounted on the wall; underneath, a cabinet held a CD player that the midwife began to fiddle with until it glowed neon blue. A double window looking out into the night faced her, and to her right was a bed.
As ambient music began to play, the midwife turned. ‘Adaizi’s the name,’ she said, her eyebrows raised as she grinned. Adaizi’s eyes sparkled intently as she spoke, making Amy wonder if the newly restored light had affected her vision. ‘I’ll look after you, beautiful gal.’
Adaizi had a wide, mischievous-looking smile that brightened her whole face. Her cheeks as chubby as a hamsters’, Amy imagined them being pinched many times as a child.
‘My waters have broken,’ Amy said with attitude. She couldn’t believe Adaizi had thought about music before making Amy comfortable.
‘Let’s get you set up then,’ she said, pointing to the bed.
‘To those things?’ Amy pointed to two machines that were flashing and beeping on a table at the side of the bed. ‘I don’t think so!’
‘Don’t worry, that’s just the back-up generators doing their job. They’ll be fine in a moment. You just get settled in for now.’ Adaizi pointed to the gown that was laid neatly on the bed. As Amy begrudgingly changed into the gown, Adaizi poured her a glass of ice water from a jug on the table between the bed and the window. ‘Here you are, beautiful,’ she said.
‘I’m getting contractions every five minutes,’ Amy said.
‘I know, beautiful,’ Adaizi said. ‘Don’t you worry now. You’re both fine.’ Each ‘plinky-plonky’ sound from the CD a reminder of Adaizi’s peculiarity, Amy was just glad the woman oozed confidence. Someone with experience was welcome after that reception. ‘You’ve done so well to get this far on your own, you know. So well indeed.’ Adaizi stroked Amy’s arm. It felt warm, soft and comforting. More than just a motherly touch; something in her caress made Amy feel the woman genuinely cared. Whatever it was, it somehow made Amy feel totally relaxed.
Adaizi hooked Amy to the two monitors professionally enough, but there was something in the way Adaizi looked at Amy that made Amy warm to her. A look she wasn’t used to. Lots of people pitied Amy for being young and pregnant, but this was the first time anyone looked at her like they admired her for what she was doing. Amy felt intrigued by Adaizi’s distinct, alluring nature and by her captivating, hazel eyes, which glistened as if in reflection to her glass of water.